2 Peter 3:14 “And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in His sight.”NLT
Then, all of a sudden, it dawned on me. I had one of those moments of grace in which God managed to slip a word into my consciousness. As I stood in that slow-moving line at Costco, I was waiting. Waiting! In a way, I was experiencing exactly what Advent is all about. Of course I wasn’t waiting for God to save me or anything momentous like that. I was simply waiting to get out of that store so I could go home. But, nevertheless, I was waiting. I was forced to experience something that’s at the very heart of Advent.
So I decided, right then and there in the line at Costco, that I was going to use the experience of waiting in line while Christmas shopping as an Advent reminder. In that moment, and in similar moments yet to come, I was going to remember what Advent is all about. I was going to put myself back into the shoes of the Jews who were waiting for the Messiah. And I was going to remember that I too am waiting for Christ to return.
As I decided to let the experience of forced waiting be a moment of Advent reflection rather than a cause for getting an ulcer, I found my anger quickly drain away. Waiting in line at Costco became, not a trial to be endured, but a moment of grace. And get this: I even found myself thanking God for the chance to slow down a bit and wait. This was, indeed, a miracle.
Honestly, I can still forget my commitment to use waiting in line as a time for Advent reflection. My gut instinct can take over. I can easily start clenching my fists as I think of how much time I’m losing. But then a gentle breeze from the Spirit will remind me of how waiting can enrich my life, rather than rob me of joy.
Come to think of it, the grace of waiting in line during Advent might also be relevant to one of my other giant pet peeves: heavy traffic! Traffic is often worse during the season of Advent as people are rushing to the malls to shop for gifts. But I wonder if it’s possible to allow the hassle of traffic to serve as a reminder of Advent waiting.
In the last few years, what I hate most about the days prior to Christmas – waiting in line – has become a quasi-sacrament, a time to experience God’s grace. If you’ve never tried this, it may sound to you as if I’ve lost my mind. This sounds even sillier than wearing purple in the weeks before Christmas rather than red and green. But let me encourage you to try it. By experiencing waiting in line not as a punishment, but as a opportunity to wait peacefully, you’ll find a bit of grace, hidden and ready to be discovered, much like a little picture behind one of those doors of an Advent calendar.”